GMPA

Tameside PTC Launch

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Tameside Poverty Truth Commission launch – what if?

By Beatrice Smith, Programme Facilitator

What if people who struggled against poverty were involved in making decisions about tackling poverty?

Over the past 10 months, GMPA has been working with a group of brave and courageous individuals with lived experience of poverty from the Tameside area. Together they are seeking to inspire action and change to solve poverty in Tameside. By sharing their individual stories, they hope to bring more awareness to the decision-making process by putting a face to the statistics and building relationships with decision makers.

This is the principle of the Tameside Poverty Truth Commission, which seeks to embed the voices of the lived experience in decision making processes.  This will deepen the understanding of the multi-faceted nature of the impact of poverty on those who experience it, leading to better informed decisions across the business, public and voluntary sectors.

After months of hard work, preparation and anticipation, 100 people from various local organisations, partners and stakeholders came together to witness the launch of the Tameside Poverty Truth commission, a year long project, which seeks to explore issues of poverty in Tameside.

TPTC launch photos 1 for GM Poverty Action

Commissioner Ed
with Hannah Lamberth,
Administrator and Event Organiser (Tameside PTC)

The event centred on the voices of the lived experience Commissioners, who shared powerful stories from their own lives and how poverty impacts them daily. It was a hard-hitting event, which highlighted several issues, including housing inequalities, failings in the benefits system and limited access to mental health services.

One Commissioner spoke of being wrongly advised to take up a pension when he was made redundant, resulting in him ending up financially worse off and unable to claim government assistance. Too young to officially retire but rejected by new employers as ‘too old’.

TPTC launch photos 3 for GM Poverty Action

Commissioner Christopher

Many of the Commissioners also spoke of falling through the cracks of several services and being traumatically impacted by the vicious cycle of poverty and mental health, not knowing where one ends and the other begins.

As a result, Commissioners spoke of being locked in a cycle of poverty, exacerbated by the rising cost of living, low paid, insecure work, benefit freezes and rising housing and energy costs. Many called for a redesign in the way that services work and called for a collaborative effort in Tameside to free people from the tightening grip of poverty.

TPTC Photos 2 for GM Poverty Action

Commissioner Karen

Attendees at the launch included several senior members of local organisations and Tameside Council leader, Councillor Brenda Warrington. Also present were senior cabinet members and council officers, some of whom form part of the Commission as civic and business leaders.

TPTC Launch photos 6 for GM Poverty Action

Commissioner Helen
with Beatrice

There was an opportunity to hear positive reflections from some of these leaders as they responded to stories from commissioners and the event. Ivan Wright, Assistant Director of Jigsaw Housing said:

“I think all of us in the room were impacted by everything that each of the commissioners said and certainly the bravery that was shown to tell their story. It was a hard listen, but is should be a hard listen because everyone needs to know that this is the reality of living in poverty. We recognise that we have got responsibility for the end result and the experience that everyone gets. I think the right people are in the room and with the Commissioners’ help, I think we could really identify ways of improving things in Tameside.’

Councillor Warrington, spoke with conviction about her intention to see the work of the Tameside Poverty Truth Commission fully established in Tameside. She said:

TPTC launch photos 7 for GM Poverty Action

Councillor Brenda Warrington

“It is absolutely clear to me that poverty in Tameside is a crisis that we need to redouble our efforts to address. The time is right now to think and to act radically.”

Cllr Warrington emphasised the impact that COVID 19 has had on those in the area already struggling with poverty. Her commitment was to see the trends laid bare by the pandemic begin to be reversed in Tameside, not just by goodwill but by determined action from all involved in decision making. She noted that while there may be cause for concern, there is also cause for optimism as collective response to the pandemic has  been built upon a wave of grassroots solidarity and mobilisation.

Local communities and organisations supported by the public, private and voluntary organisations will need to continue to  come together to offer services and assistance to those most impacted by the double misfortune of poverty and the pandemic.

It is clear, therefore, that in order to begin to tackle poverty in Tameside, it will take a collaborative effort from everyone, a renewed optimism and a determination to trying new things and to ask together: ‘what if…’.

So what happens next?

TPTC launch photos 4 for GM Poverty Action

The Grassroots, Civic and Business Commissioners stand together

The newly launched Commission, formed of lived experience Commissioners and civic and business Commissioners will now get underway and spend the next few months building relationships and identifying issues that they would like to address together. Once these have been identified, working groups will be formed to explore these issues on a deeper level and design possible solutions to some of those identified. Finally, a closing event will be held at the end of next year to communicate the findings of the Commission with the wider public.

TPTC launch photos 5 for GM Poverty Action

Beatrice Smith at the launch reads the poem ‘What if..’

The Commission forms part of GMPA’s commitment to embedding the voices of people with lived experience of poverty in the decision making structures and policy making processes of Greater Manchester.  Regular updates on the progress of the Commission will be shared through this newsletter and social media so please make sure you subscribe to keep in touch.

At the end of the launch I read out a poem, written by the Grassroots Commissioners entitled ‘What if…’. Listen to the poem here.

You can follow the work of the Commission on the website and through future newsletters.

 

 

i3oz9sTameside PTC Launch
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The Budget

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Relief for some, but poverty will remain stubbornly high
GMPA’s reaction to the BUDGET and the Comprehensive Spending Review
By Graham Whitham

A much trailed budget ran the risk of leaving us with little new being announced on the day. The government had already announced a 6.6% increase to the statutory minimum hourly rate of pay for over 23s (termed the ‘National Living Wage’ by government) and funding for ‘children’s hubs’. However, the budget included further positive news with a reduction in the Universal Credit taper rate from 63% to 55%. This is the rate at which the benefit is withdrawn for every extra £1 a person earns. The Work Allowance in Universal Credit is being increased by £500. Positively these measures commence in December, rather than April. These positive steps forward wouldn’t have been possible without the powerful campaign against the £20 a week cut to Universal Credit, ably led by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Whilst the cut may have still gone ahead, the Chancellor was forced into doing something to compensate at least some of the people affected.

With any budget it is important to look at the detail, and consider not just those things that were announced, but the things that were missing. GMPA has been supporting calls for the government to commit dedicated funding for local welfare assistance schemes. At present, schemes are non-statutory and councils have to find funding from budgets that have been drastically cut over the last 11 years.

The government have stepped in during the pandemic, providing additional hardship funding for councils so they can support people facing financial hardship and families eligible for Free School Meals during the holidays. This funding has usually been announced at short notice, with overstretched councils having to provide one-off support schemes. We need a permanent funding solution for both local welfare assistance schemes and the provision of Free School Meals during the school holidays.

In terms of what else was missing, not enough was done to stem the alarming rise in child poverty in the UK. We urgently need to see an end to the two-child limit on children’s benefits and a boost to Child Benefit of £10 per week if we are to stand any chance of driving down poverty rates.

Whilst the improvements to Universal Credit are welcome, they fall short of compensating people for the £20 a week cut to the benefit introduced in October. Millions of people on low incomes won’t benefit of course, including those unable to work. According to the Resolution Foundation: Of the 4.4 million households on universal credit, about three-quarters (3.2 million households) will be worse off as a result of decisions to take away the £20-a week-uplift, despite the government’s new Universal Credit measures. A total of 1.2 million households will be better off by around £900 a year than before the Budget.

As we approach Living Wage Week (LWW) (more details on the GM Living Wage Campaign page), it is important to remind ourselves that the Real Living Wage is the only UK payrate based on what people need to achieve a reasonable standard of living. At the start of LWW, the Living Wage Foundation will announce the new annual rates for the UK (and a separate higher rate for London). This will illustrate how far the government still has to go in tackling low pay.

GMPA Director Graham Whitham for GM Poverty Action

Graham Whitham , CEO, GMPA

In Greater Manchester, GMPA will continue to advocate for adoption of the Real Living Wage by employers and support councils to strengthen local welfare schemes, develop robust plans for tackling poverty with partners and adopt the socio-economic duty. Now more than ever, it is important to maximise households income in Greater Manchester and to protect people from rising living costs and an ineffective social security system.

 

i3oz9sThe Budget
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Challenge Poverty Week

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Challenge Poverty Week is just around the corner, with events taking place in Scotland this week and then across England and Wales from 11th to 17th October. Challenge Poverty Week is an opportunity for us all to say what needs to change after Covid to enable our own communities to thrive.

At GMPA we are pleased to be supporting the Greater Manchester Big Poverty Conversation on October 11th, 2021 alongside the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Church Action on Poverty . At the event we will hear from local leaders, service providers and people with lived experience of poverty on local responses to poverty. This event will provide a platform to:

•  Showcase what is already being done at community level to challenge and alleviate poverty.
•  To change the conversation around poverty .
•  Help end the stigma by building awareness and support for sustainable responses to the pandemic that focus on enhancing the dignity and agency of people in poverty.

The event is being held in the centre of Manchester and will start with lunch at 12.15pm and close at 3pm. For full details, and to book your place, click here.

You can find out more about Challenge Poverty Week, including information on events happening in other areas, here .

By Graham Whitham

 

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Poverty Monitor- new pages

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Worrying national trends detailed on GMPA’s Poverty Monitor

By Graham Whitham

We have added two new pages to the Greater Manchester Poverty Monitor. The first details some worrying national poverty trends, showing that poverty was growing among ‘at risk’ groups in the years leading up to the pandemic.

The National Poverty Data page uses data from the government’s Households Below Average Income data series. This provides data on UK poverty levels, broken down by a range of different family types and characteristics. The most recent data takes us up to the eve of the pandemic. Children in lone parent households, households containing a disabled person and families with three or more children have always been at greater risk of poverty. That risk has been growing in recent years as illustrated in the charts below. This is why it is so important that the Government retains to £20 Universal Credit uplift.

Chart 4 Poverty rate by number of children in the family for GM Poverty Action Poverty Monitor 2020

Chart 2 Poverty rate by family type for GM Poverty Action Poverty Monitor 2020

The National Poverty data page also includes a range of other selected data, including poverty rates by ethnicity and English region. For those of us working locally, it can be useful to look at national poverty data, particularly trend data, to understand what is happening to poverty over time. Many of the national trends are likely to be replicated in Greater Manchester. It can help us think about how policy and practice can respond to the changing nature of poverty among residents in our city region.

A second new page provides Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) data at ward level. The IMD combines information from seven domains to produce an overall relative measure of deprivation for small areas in England. The domains are: Income; Employment; Education; Skills and Training; Health and Disability; Crime; Barriers to Housing Services; Living Environment. The more deprived is an area, the higher the IMD score but the lower the rank. The IMD is published every four years and was most recently published in 2019.

There are two subsets to the IMD. The Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI) subset measures the proportion of all children aged 0 to 15 living in income deprived families. The Income Deprivation Affecting Older People Index (IDAOPI) subset measures the proportion of all those aged 60 or over who experience income deprivation.

IMD produces data for small geographic areas know as Lower Super Output Areas (LSOAs). LSOAs aren’t coterminous with electoral wards, but ‘best fit analysis’ can provide a deprivation score and ranking for electoral wards in England using IMD.

You can download the IMD score, the average score by domain and the IDACI and IDAOPI scores for best-fit LSOAs in each electoral ward in Greater Manchester by visiting this page.

We are working to a full update of the Poverty Monitor in spring 2022. If you make use the Monitor we’d be really grateful if you could complete this survey. The information we gather will help us evidence the impact and usefulness of the Monitor to stakeholders and potential funders.

 

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#KeepTheLifeline

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The National #KeepTheLifeline Campaign

As you are no doubt aware, in October the Government plans to cut the £20 a week (£1040 a year) uplift paid to those in receipt of Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit introduced at the beginning of the pandemic. For years before the pandemic, cuts and freezes to social security had already left many families living with constant financial insecurity.

This cut will have a huge impact on six million families and will be the biggest cut to the basic rate of social security since the modern welfare state began, more than 70 years ago.

Many charities, think tanks and leading organisations plus six former Conservative work and pensions secretaries   are urging the Government not to go ahead with this cut, which will further weaken social security support, cause severe hardship for families who are already struggling to stay afloat and generate a surge of people being pulled into poverty.

There is also an ongoing call on the Government not to discriminate against families receiving ‘legacy benefits’ such as Employment Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Income Support by not giving them this uplift.

Since signing a joint open letter to the Chancellor last September, an ongoing campaign led by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), together with many organisations including GMPA, determined to prevent this cut, has been active.  If this is something you feel strongly about, there are many ways to get involved.

JRF have produced some very helpful tools.  You can read more about the campaign here and why this lifeline must be kept. 

•  There is a web page with information for Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit claimants including a template for writing to their MP.  A separate web page with information for legacy benefit claimants, again with a template for writing to their MP and a web page for supporters with write to MP instructions.

•  A ‘Campaign guide’ – for small organisations or leaders who are keen to get involved. It has details of the campaign, links to assets, write to MP guidance and suggested tweets.

•  A ‘Stakeholder toolkit’ – for larger organisations with networks.

What you can do to help

If you do one thing, write to your MP and/or request a meeting (see the helpful guide from the End Child Poverty Coalition for how to prepare). It is so important that MPs hear from as many different voices as possible about the impact of the cut – from charities, local leaders, claimants and supporters. We need them to know that this is a huge risk for families and communities, and for them politically.

Tell your network about the cut

Sadly, despite the severe impact this cut is likely to have on families, the complexity of the system and lack of communications means that too few recipients are aware it is due to happen and that it will affect them.

Raise the issue on your social media

Use the #KeepTheLifeline and help to keep this issue trending.

There are plans for a national day of action on August 17th.  Keep an eye on social media #KeepTheLifeline for more information. 

 

 

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New guide for local authorities on socio-economic duty implementation

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By Graham Whitham

At GMPA we are delighted to have published a new guide for local and combined authorities on voluntary adoption and implementation of the socio-economic duty. The guide is for use by organisations across England, including here in Greater Manchester.

We believe the socio-economic duty is a central element of the framework that localities seeking to address poverty should adopt. The duty ensures that local authorities assess the impact of policy and practice on socio-economic disadvantage. Adoption of the duty should be done meaningfully. The guide provides detail and advice on how to ensure that is the case, working closely with people with lived experience of poverty.

There’s a lot of interest in the duty in Greater Manchester following GMPA’s advocacy work on it over the last year or so. Wigan are applying the duty locally, and Salford and Trafford have committed to doing so. The Independent Inequalities Commission recommended adoption of the duty by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority in their recent report.

The scale of socio-economic inequalities in the UK have been highlighted by the pandemic. In spite of this, the UK government continues to choose not to enact the socio-economic duty nationally (the duty is contained in Section 1 of the Equality Act 2010). If enacted, the duty would legally require public authorities to actively consider the way in which their decisions increase or decrease the inequalities that result from socio-economic disadvantage.

As the duty hasn’t been enacted, some areas have taken matters into their own hands. The duty is now in force in Scotland (‘Fairer Scotland Duty’) (and is also being taken forward in Wales), and some combined and local authorities in England are voluntarily implementing it.

The need to formally recognise and address socio-economic disadvantage alongside other forms of inequality has never been more clear, as those from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds have experienced some of the most severe health and economic impacts of the pandemic.

We believe that, if implemented, the socio-economic duty would provide a powerful foundation for the fairer society we all want to see. In the absence of action at a national level, we need to identify what we can do locally. Voluntary adoption of the duty can bring a number of benefits including:

  • Improving outcomes for local people experiencing socio-economic disadvantage.
  • Supporting cross organisational and cross departmental working.
  • Raising awareness of socio-economic inequalities within organisations and among partners.
  • Ensuring widespread organisational commitment to, and consideration of, socio-economic inequalities.
  • Supporting the participation of low-income residents in decisions that affect them, especially in the context of (proposed) cuts to services.
  • Achieving greater consistency in practice – and an increased likelihood of maintaining such consistent practice across political administrations and between changes of individual leadership and turnover of staff.
  • Improving systematic approaches to equality impact assessments and assessment of policy and practice more broadly.
  • Strengthening systematic data gathering and analysis, especially in the conduct of equality impact assessments, thereby strengthening accountability.
  • Supporting the effective and efficient allocation of resources.

The guide is broken down into six sections:

  1. Meaningful impact assessments to understand the consequences of socio-economic disadvantage
  2. Using data effectively as a tool for decision-making and accountability
  3. Encouraging strong and visible leadership
  4. Principles of working in partnership with people with lived experience of socio-economic disadvantage
  5. Engaging with residents, civil society, and voluntary and community sector organisations
  6. Ensuring access to justice, and monitoring impact and compliance

GMPA Director Graham Whitham for GM Poverty ActionThe Guide has been developed by GMPA in partnership with Amnesty, Compassion in Politics, Equally Ours, Just Fair, Runnymede, Shelter, The Equality Trust and Thrive Teeside. It is available here.

Please get in touch if you’d like to know more.

Graham Whitham, CEO GMPA

 

 

 

i3oz9sNew guide for local authorities on socio-economic duty implementation
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Food Security Pilot Projects.

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By Sian Mullen, Food Security Programme Coordinator

Alongside the VCSE sector and Local Authority partners, GMPA has started trialling a new approach to supporting
people experiencing food poverty in Tameside and Oldham. The approach centres around three fundamental points:

    1. Whilst emergency food handouts are currently necessary, they do not prevent or reduce food poverty.
    2. The only real way to reduce food poverty is to ensure people have access to a decent and reliable income.
    3. Identifying what kind of advice or support people need to maximise their income or access cash support, and who provides that advice, can be difficult.

Our response has been to develop and begin embedding a referral tool that enables anyone who refers people to a food bank to first identify income maximisation advice for people. We are also encouraging these agencies to make an active referral to an organisation who can support with this as opposed to signposting e.g. giving someone a phone number to call or a website to visit. The aim is to help tackle the underlying causes of food insecurity, and reduce demand for food banks and clubs.

The tool itself, based on a model developed in Scotland by A Menu for Change begins by identifying underlying issues that people presenting in food insecurity may be experiencing, such as job loss, benefit delays or sanctions, or debt.

The tool then directs referrers to some options that could help with these issues. For example, support to challenge a benefit sanction, budgeting advice, advice to reduce energy costs, or access to discretionary housing payments or the Local Welfare Assistance Scheme. If someone has no recourse to public funds, they may be eligible to get a cash grant to support themselves.

Finally the tool then directs referrers to a local organisation who can support the person with this process. For example, in Tameside, the Welfare Rights Team, Citizens Advice, and the GM Law Centre could all support someone to challenge a benefit decision. Or Infinity Initiatives could enable someone with no recourse to public funds to access a cash grant from the Migrant Destitution Fund.

As well as direct income maximisation support the tool also identifies areas of support that may help someone manages their finances better, for example it guides people to support for addictions, mental health issues, and homelessness.

We know that there are great organisations already working to refer service users on to the best support they can find, and this tool and process aims to embed this on a wider scale. People experiencing food insecurity often turn to places like schools, GPs, places of worship, and small community groups, so we need to ensure that these places, as well as larger VCSE sector organisations or Local Authorities recognise food insecurity as a symptom of poverty and treat it at its root cause. Equally, the tool allows those who may already be doing this kind of work, to more easily identify where to refer someone to, streamlining the process and maximising the chances of people getting the advice and support that they need.

Link to the online tool and Link to Advice Tameside website

Tameside Referral Tool for GM Poverty Action

Every year hundreds of millions of pounds of benefits go unclaimed across the UK, so we want to ensure people are accessing what they can. Other people may just need some help reducing energy costs or budgeting, or an interaction they have with a referrer might be the point when they’re finally able to ask for help with other issues such as mental health, or an addiction. Or there may be schemes that people have been unaware of such as a local welfare assistance scheme. During the consultation process that we carried out to develop the tool in Tameside, we already identified support that other organisations were unaware of.

We are continuing to work to ensure the tool is accessible and helpful for diverse ethnic communities. This includes developing translation documents to go alongside the tool in key languages used across the boroughs, and looking at how we can identify organisations which have language support available for people in need of advice.

Sian Mullen Food Poverty Programme Coordinator for GM Poverty Action

Sian Mullen

The Oldham tool is still being developed but you can download or use an online version of the tool for Tameside here. If you’re an organisation in Tameside who refers people to food banks we really encourage you to use this tool with people before sending them on to the food bank. If you are using the tool we’re really keen to collect any feedback you may have on it so we can adapt it as needed. You can share your feedback with us, or report how you’ve been using it, using the online forms available here.

When we have feedback from the pilot projects, we hope to encourage the development and rollout of similar tools in other boroughs of Greater Manchester – please look out for more information on this later in the year.

The Food Security Programme is a Greater Manchester Poverty Action programme

i3oz9sFood Security Pilot Projects.
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Real Living Wage City Region

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Greater Manchester Real Living Wage Campaign Update

By John Hacking, Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign Co-ordinator.

May 12th was a very significant date for the campaign to make Greater Manchester a Real Living Wage City Region as it saw the first meeting of the City Region Living Wage Action Group chaired by the newly elected Mayor of GM, Andy Burnham.

Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign (GMLWC) has been working towards the goal of making GM a Real Living Wage City Region for a number of years and the announcement in November 2020 by the  Mayor that it was his intention to make this vision a reality, was a massive step forward for our campaign to see a real improvement in the lives of thousands of low paid workers in our area.

Since the announcement I have (as reported in previous newsletters) been working with partners and stakeholders across GM to create the Living Wage Action Plan which was unveiled on May 12th. The Living Wage Action Plan Group will now work to outline a clear path towards the goal of all employers in the city-region paying the living wage and offering living hours by 2030, as recommended by the Independent Inequalities Commission in its report published earlier this year.

I have been, and will continue, to work on the Plan to ensure that there are ambitious targets and that there is the widest and most diverse possible involvement from all sectors and communities across GM.

The Action Plan Group will be chaired by Lou Cordwell, Chair of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership and is made up of businesses, unions, local authorities, civil society, faith groups, social enterprises and voluntary organisations.  The Plan will focus on key sectors of the GM economy: ‘anchor institutions’, including large public sector organisations; local authorities; health and social care; hospitality and leisure; large employers; small and medium enterprises; and the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector.

GMLWC along with GM Citizens will lead on the campaigns sub-group  focussing on using our local networks of Real Living Wage activists and advocates to target employers across GM working with local and national campaigns.

As part of the work to involve a wide and diverse group of people and organisations in the Campaign Subgroup, we will be holding a meeting of the GMLWC group in June. If you are on the database you will receive more information in the next couple of weeks. If you aren’t but want to be then please send your name, organisation (if applicable) and email address to me.

John Hacking GM Living Wage coordinator for GM Poverty Action

Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign Coordinator John Hacking

In addition to this, we continue to work with partners across GM on a range of local campaigns. One of the activities we promote, and support, is to encourage more local authorities to become Real Living Wage Employers. As reported previously Bury Council recently made a commitment to become a Real Living Wage Employer. In the latest in our series of podcasts we spoke to Councillor Eamonn O’Brien, Leader of Bury Council about a range of issues related to the fight against poverty and in particular the plans to make Bury Council the 4th local authority in GM to become a Living Wage Employer. You can listen the podcast on our website here

John Hacking, Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign Co-ordinator
Twitter: @GMlivingwage     Facebook: facebook.com/gmlivingwage

The Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign is a Greater Manchester Poverty Action programme.

 

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New End Child Poverty statistics

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New local child poverty figures show worrying trends

By Graham Whitham, CEO GMPA

Last week the End Child Poverty Coalition released new analysis showing child poverty rates across the UK by local authority area over the six years leading up to the pandemic. Even before the economy was hit by the pandemic, child poverty was becoming more entrenched in areas with already high levels of poverty and deprivation.

Of particular concern is the increase in child poverty in the North East, with the largest increases in child poverty between 2015/16 and 2019/20 happening in Newcastle upon Tyne (up 12.8%), Gateshead (up 11.2%), Redcar and Cleveland (up 10.6%) and County Durham (up 10.5%).

Whilst the increases in Greater Manchester haven’t been as sharp as in parts of the North East, there have been significant increases in Manchester (up 6.4%), Oldham (up 5.1%) and Bolton (4.1%). Across Greater Manchester as a whole, only one of our ten boroughs (Trafford) saw child poverty fall over this period – as shown in the table
below:End Child Poverty 2021 table

Nationally, the highest rates of child poverty remain concentrated in large conurbations like London and Birmingham.

In response to these concerning figures, the End Child Poverty Coalition is calling on the UK Government to recognise the scale of the problem and its impact on children’s lives and to create a credible plan to end child poverty which must include a commitment to increase child benefits. Given the extent to which families are already struggling, the planned £20 per week cut to Universal Credit in October 2021 should be revoked. The support should also be extended to those still receiving financial assistance from the old benefit system, referred to as ‘legacy benefits’, before they are switched to Universal Credit.

End Child Poverty infographic 2021

To read the full report please visit the End Child Poverty Coalition website.

GMPA is a member of the End Child Poverty Coalition steering group.

 

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Time for a step change in how we address socio-economic disadvantage

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by Graham Whitham

It was good to see the launch of the Greater Manchester Independent Inequalities Commission report last month. The Commission was launched in October 2020 with a six-month mission to examine inequalities across the city region, consider how they should be tackled and outline some specific and hard-hitting recommendations. The Commission viewed inequalities within a framework that considers how interacting and intersecting inequalities create barriers that stop people from living the good lives that they want.

COVID-19 has exposed the extent of these inequalities in Greater Manchester. To address this, the Commission’s report calls on everyone in the city-region to work towards an agreed set of wellbeing and equality targets that aim to leave no-one behind. Alongside this are a series of recommendations under the themes of People Power, Good Jobs and Decent Pay, Building Wealth and Services for a Good Life. You can read more about the recommendations here.

GMPA supported the work of the Commission by bringing together a ‘Poverty Reference Group’. The group was made up of people with lived experience of poverty who have been involved in engagement and co-production projects across Greater Manchester (including poverty truth commissions, the Elephants Project, Creative Inclusion, the BME Network, GM Coalition of Disabled People, Migrant Help, Support & Action Women’s Network, and Legislative Theatre). The aim of the group was to inform and reflect on the work of the commission, complementing other engagement work (including engaging with the Equalities Panels). The meetings generated a range of innovative recommendations that were grounded in real world experience of poverty, including how to:

•  Reduce barriers to employment, and tackle stigma and bias in recruitment and in the workplace;
•  Improve job quality, and increase access to education and training;
•  Listen meaningfully to communities;
•  Give communities the power to tackle for themselves the problems that affect them.

A number of key areas that GMPA has been working on are included in the report, including a call for the Combined Authority to adopt the socio-economic duty and, building on the Poverty Reference Group, the establishment of a new Panel for people with lived experience of poverty to inform and shape policy.

GMPA wants to see a city-region where we put tackling socio-economic disadvantage at the heart of what we do. We have more councils (working with partners) with poverty strategies in place and examples of good practice and innovation in tackling poverty across Greater Manchester. The Real Living Wage is become more embedded, with plans to create a Living Wage City Region. GMPA is working hard to create a stronger focus on preventing and reducing poverty.

Graham Whitham, CEO GMPA for GM Poverty Action

Graham Whitham, CEO GMPA

We need to go further and embed a focus on poverty and socio-economic disadvantage in everything we do. It is helpful therefore, that the Commission has articulated a clear framework for understanding the intersection between socio-economic disadvantage and poverty and other inequalities.

Next week Greater Manchester goes to the polls for the Mayoral Election. It is important that together with whoever wins, we implement the recommendations of the Commission.

 

i3oz9sTime for a step change in how we address socio-economic disadvantage
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